4 thoughts on “Other Posts to Crow About – 2018 Week 46 Edition

  1. Oh hello again!

    “a viable challenge to my position”

    I don’t know if I intended to challenge anyone. I think I’m just saying that discussing realism is… maybe kind of pointless? It’s realistic… if you want it to be, or something? I don’t want to be too relativistic, but it’s just fiction, after all. If you can imagine it, anything can happen.

    This is probably my sloppiest blog post yet, but that’s what happens when I forget myself and go on a lazy, self-indulgent ramble about my skeptical inability to establish reality… Goblin Slayer isn’t realistic to me. But to you, sure, fine, whatever. I don’t know, you do you!

    See, when you conclude something isn’t worth discussing, it’s hard to discuss…
    …if the ellipses don’t make that obvious.

    1. Even if your post’s challenge wasn’t intentional, I took it as a good thing. I’ve been imprecise in my posts, and your discussion helped me realize how.

      “but it’s just fiction, after all. If you can imagine it, anything can happen.”

      This is another point you helped me clarify, at least in my mind! Anything can happen in a fictitious world — but only before the first sentence. After that, for a world to sustain suspension of disbelief, it has to establish and follow its own rules. Afterward, if the writer indulges simply in undisciplined imagination, the reader will see through the fiction and lose interest.

      I’m beginning to think that this is why I say Goblin Slayer is realistic. It’s established rules and it’s sticking to them. Now, there’s a discussion to be had about how well it established the rules, and how well it’s adhering to them — and I think that could be an interesting discussion.

      So thanks for a thought-provoking post!

      1. I don’t know blog etiquette or if this is the right forum for this discussion but I’ve been thinking about this idea a lot since my initial post. If you will permit one more comment… (and if it’s unwelcome or too long, go ahead and delete it)

        A world does not necessarily need to “establish and follow its own rules.” I recently started reading Peter S. Beagle’s fantasy novel The Last Unicorn, which a timely “The Atlantic” article (quickly searchable on Google) describes as a convincing contrast to the hard world-building found in Lord of the Rings or Game of Thrones. The first chapter includes the line “It was always spring in her forest, because she lived there.” Beagle provides no further justification and no further elaboration beyond the tautology. However, even if the idea does nothing to contribute to internal consistency, it has interesting thematic value. And for me at least, that’s good enough. Fiction does not need to follow its own rules any more so than it does the rules of the real world

        You wrote “The reader will see through the fiction and lose interest” but that’s my essential question… which reader?, because not all care about verisimilitude. I certainly don’t (much…). A preference for realism essentially comes down to an individual viewer’s genre preferences. Do you prefer the dark fantasy with a 1% plausibility, ending with a psychologically scarred hero dying from broken ribs and severe lacerations? Or do you prefer the light fantasy with a 0.0000000000whatever% plausibility, ending with the glittering hero escaping without so much as dirt on her boots? Both are possible with good luck, and your preference might just come down to your own tolerance for uncertainty more than anything else.

        And that brings me to my last point about expected reality. Because all fiction is by definition unreal, verisimilitude will derive more from genre expectations and the individual audience member’s experiences than any genuine “realism.” For example, intense violence is a staple of dark fantasy. However, nothing says that it is somehow an essential, natural state of the universe. It’s just a genre assumption. Even in the real world, we can’t clearly establish what “intense violence” means. What’s your suspension of disbelief threshold there? 1% of humans affected? 10%? You can take a “I know it when I see it approach,” but not everyone will know. It’s just a value judgment, arbitrary in each individual case and unknowable in the aggregate.

        I am not challenging you because these are simply expressions of preference, and more broadly, an individual’s worldview. No one has a “right” answer in regards to sufficient verisimilitude or internal consistency. If it matters to you, great! But it won’t necessarily matter to me. Fiction is fiction. It’s just unreal, period. Once you’ve exhausted this line of thinking, engaging with fiction becomes less about the details in the “what?” questions and more about the “why that?” regarding themes and maybe the “how well?” about quality (and most importantly, the self-reflective “do I agree?”). So why did Goblin Slayer open with a rape? I dunno, I just don’t think realism isn’t the answer.

        (And how well? I dunno either, but I’m enjoying the show well enough to keep watching, whatever that means in a self-reflective sense…)

        1. “If you will permit one more comment…”

          Please do!

          “Fiction does not need to follow its own rules any more so than it does the rules of the real world”

          You seem to know your way around narratives, so I’m guessing you’re well-acquainted with the idea that all writing, including fiction, has rules. A good writer will follow those rules, until she knows that she shouldn’t.

          So I concede your point that fiction in general doesn’t necessarily _need_ to follow rules.

          But the fiction that sticks with me, generally speaking, builds a robust world and inhabits it. Not just “doesn’t break the rules.” It fulfills and extends the rules. I’m thinking about sub-creation like you see in Tolkien.

          “You wrote ‘The reader will see through the fiction and lose interest” but that’s my essential question… which reader?, because not all care about verisimilitude.'”

          Fair enough! My answer to “which reader” is, me! I will lose interest 95% of the time in a world that is inconsistent. The other 5% is probably an ecchi series where my attention isn’t exactly on the world.

          “No one has a “right” answer in regards to sufficient verisimilitude or internal consistency. If it matters to you, great! But it won’t necessarily matter to me.”

          Consider your point made!

          What I enjoyed about your comment is that it helped me reflect on the imprecision in my language. That means I can improve it in the future! Instead of me making a blanket statement about viewers and suspension of disbelief, I’ll try to be more cognizant that what I’m really talking about is my preference for realism to the level of sub-creation, which is a specific thing. Instead of talking about blanket “realism,” I can talk about topics specific to sub-creation.

          Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

Please let me know what you think!

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